Push in the clutch and downshift

My candle burns at both ends

It will not last the night

But ah, my foes and oh, my friends

It makes a lovely light

–Edna St. Vincent Millay

 I have loved that poem since the first time I ever read it. Dekie told me (rightfully) that I need to write an article for my site this morning and get back on track. The Millay poem was the first thing that came to mind.

 Today is January 8, and the first Sunday after the wrap up of holiday festivities. It is a mild and drizzly day and most suitable for reflecting on the many events of the past year. It was a busy one. WordPress has told me that I now have 93 articles posted on this site and if you like, you may look over to the calendar on the right hand side bar and look at the articles I wrote in 2011.I entered 2011 with a big radiation burn on my neck from cancer treatment. My throat was swollen and the only real voice I had was right here on Johntheplantman. Things got much better rapidly though, and if my voice is not quite all back, I am encouraged by its progress.

 We had tornadoes in our neighborhood in April and again right before Christmas. Dekie and I were married May 14 and we took a delightful trip out west to see God’s magnificent landscape. On our return I was able to help Ken and Mary Nance in the repairing of the tornado damage in their yard.

I enjoyed being a bonsai artist on a grand scale at the Hubbard’s home on the mountain and the new father-in-law got a sprinkler for his garden for father’s day. We later took my collection of whisky barrel rings to Buckhead to do a little renovation on a side yard.

 And all the time we were doing these neat landscaping jobs, I was working from 5a.m until 8 a.m. trying to finish the second book in my redneck series titled REDEMPTION FOR A REDNECK Which turned into a whirlwind of activity for Dekie the publisher and my son, J.R. Schulz, the illustrator. Books arrived during the first week of November and we started a whirlwind of activity with book signings and the like. I was honored to be included by the Ga. Writer’s Association. as a participant in a panel discussion with fellow humorists Man Martin and Ray Atkins on writing humor. That was a good time.

Now I’m just about ready to commence the new year. My voice is coming back nicely and I have managed to stay married for more than 6 months. I’ll have a nice landscaping article up next week. I promise.

john

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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Redemption is on the way!!!

Redemption for a Redneck is on the way!!!

 That’s right, the books are on a truck somewhere between the printer and good ol’ Rome, Georgia.  It is a wonderful feeling to think that in just a couple of days I will hold the results of a year’s creative work in my hands.

 It’s a good read, too. Here’s what Ray Atkins has to say in a pre-publication review:

“In Redemption for a Redneck—the sequel to the award-winning Requiem for a Redneck—John P. Schulz reunites us with John the Plant Man and Kickstand as the two men continue their philosophical examination of the unique culture of rural Georgia.  Schultz is a natural storyteller, and he treats his subject with kindness and respect.  His characters—Boss Jack, Pork Chop, Brickyard, and Roadkill, to name but a few—will entertain readers of all ages.  Mark Twain, make some room; you have company.  John P. Schulz has arrived, and he intends to stay awhile”.–Raymond L. Atkins, author of The Front Porch Prophet and Sorrow Wood.

 And there’s a new blogsite for my books. You may see it here

 

Redemption for a Redneck--a new novel by John P. Schulz

Click on the picture for more info.

 

 Thanks for being a fan of John the Plant Man. I appreciate it.

john

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

My self publishing experience part three-Turning it into a book.

 

Mrs. Garnett Cobb enjoys the book

Mrs. Garnett Cobb enjoys the book

The editing proceeded. Make changes, submit for editing, correct the manuscript, make more changes. I called the process polishing. I realized that when the final draft was completed and printed there would be no going back for changes. The funny thing is that in the final draft of Requiem for a Redneck,- the one that was printed- there is a glaring mistake. I never told anyone about it and only a few people noticed but I knew it was there. Can you find it?

To read part one of this series CLICK HERE

To read part two of this series CLICK HERE

 During the editing process, I was doing a lot of research trying to find out just what a “publishing company” was. I had pictures in my head of big offices that rose over a printing press. I read the offerings of a number of print on demand (POD) publishers that promised me fame and fortune if I just sent them some money and a manuscript. These companies make some mighty fine sounding promises, too, but something about them didn’t seem quite right and so I continued my research, looking for the overall concept. I found it, too.

 I found that I could use my personal computer as my publishing company. I just had to put everything together. I studied it some more. Dekie studied it with me and we realized that we could set up our own publishing company to produce the book. This turned out to be a really good move in the long run.

 My son, J.R.Schulz is a gifted graphic artist and I asked him to do the book cover for me. J.R. is the one who introduced me to the word “formatting.”

I asked, “What does that mean?”

He replied, “That means producing a pdf that is print ready. Everything has to be the right size for the book and laid out just as you want the inside of the book to look. You must select the best fonts to use and take such things into consideration as indents, headers, footers, margins, and more. Everything must be just right.”

I learned that just submitting a word document would never work. The document had to be fine tuned using a program named Indesign that was developed for just this process. J.R. and Dekie worked on the cover, formatting and other considerations needed to get the book print ready. The research continued. Here’s an example of the formatted interior:

spread scan for Requiem for a Redneck from Indesign format

spread scan for Requiem for a Redneck from Indesign format

 We needed an ISBN or International Standards Book Number, a registered copyright and a Library of Congress Book Number. We needed to find a printer. Over a period of time all of the considerations were taken care of.

 J.R. finished the book cover and we were all delighted. The book cover had to be formatted to exact dimensions so that it would fit the book. The part I found most interesting was the manner in which the spine width was determined. The spine width, of course, would change with the number of pages in the book and had to be accurate within thousandths of an inch.  Here’s what the cover looked like when it was formatted.

Requiem cover, formatted to exact specifications

Requiem cover, formatted to exact specifications

 I studied print pricing and found that the price of each copy goes down as the number of copies is raised. My research told me that the best price break came when quantities of 3,000 or more copies were ordered, so I decided to order 3,000 books. I know that sounds like a lot of books-and it is-but I had confidence in my product and in myself. Everything has worked out well in the long run.

 The formatted book was next sent to a printer. A proof copy was sent to me for approval and then the print order was completed. A couple of weeks later, boxes and boxes of books were delivered to my office. I eagerly opened one of the boxes and removed a copy of the book. I will never forget the feeling of wonder and pride that I had as I held that book in my hand for the first time. That feeling was followed later by one of, “What happens next?”

 The book was well received and even though I made many marketing mistakes, I feel that I have done rather well with Requiem for a Redneck. People sometimes asked me about my marketing plan and I thought about it. The marketing plan became:

“Write a good book, learn how to publish it, learn how to market it, and then write another book knowing what you didn’t know from the first one.”

 This would be similar to going back to school-to a school of one-a school based on self reliance. It seems to have worked so far. Now, I have finished writing the second part of what I will call “The Redneck Trilogy.” The book is titled Redemption for a Redneck and it is a love story. I plan to end up with a multi generic trilogy which will consist of a tragedy, a love story, and a mystery.

 Has my writing career started? I don’t know, but the process has become interesting and fun. I have developed a following, even if it is a small one in the grand scheme of things. People ask me every day when they will be able to read the next book. I have had a good time.

 After the production of the Requiem, we found that there are lots of people who want to self publish a book without getting ripped off by the big guys and Dekie has been busy taking care of several of these.  You will find the website for Wheredepony Press if you CLICK HERE

 You may ask, “John, did you make a profit on the book?”

And I will answer, “I sold close to two thousand books which I understand is pretty good. I covered costs and turned a dollar profit, but it turned out that money wasn’t the real profit.”

 The real profit from my book came in most unexpected ways.

I got to meet a lot of nice people.

I got to go to a lot of wonderful and enjoyable events.

I became known as a writer and as a humorist.

There are more ways I profited from the book, but the main profit is related in an article that I posted on this site last April.

In case you missed it, it is titled “A Thank You and a Love Story” You may CLICK HERE to find it.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

My self publishing experience-part one

A story about a story-My self publishing experience part one. August 28, 2011

It seems like every day, at least once but usually several times, someone will ask, “John, when’s your next book coming out?” The question never fails to make me feel good. I know now that I have been able to not only write a book but to get it published, win a prestigious award (Ippy, best fiction, South), and to create a following. I started the John the plant man blog to have a platform for answering frequently asked landscaping questions as well as to tell stories. Yesterday I was helping a client to find a leak in his waterfall and while we worked he kept asking me question after question about the writing, publishing, and marketing of Requiem for a Redneck after which I had to tell him all about my upcoming book Redemption for a Redneck which is due to appear on the scene in November, 2011. I realized that I had started answering these questions enough times to warrant writing about the subject. Here’s the story of the book:

The Storyteller, John Schulz in earlier days. A portrait by Tom Schulz, Artist

The Storyteller, John Schulz in earlier days. A portrait by Tom Schulz, Artist

I can remember being a pretty good writer in high school. My mother was a talented writer. She would take time from her busy schedule of being a housewife/student/career person to type my papers and to comment on them. When corrections were needed she took the time to show me what was wrong and how to correct it. I never much liked the correcting and re writing so I paid attention and learned to write with fewer and fewer mistakes. The most important lesson I learned from this session came from this conversation:

            “John, you need to take out this last paragraph.”

            “But, Mom, I like that paragraph.”

            She replied, “You need to take it out because it just goes too far. You’ve already made your point.”

            She then gathered up the papers, handed them to me with a pen and said,

            “The most important part of being a good writer is to know when to stop.”

Mom reinforced the lesson a number of times when, after hearing a speech or a sermon, she would smile sweetly and say something like

            “That was a good sermon, but he passed up three perfect places to stop.”

 Life went on and the age of fifty sneaked up on me. I could write short stories, essays and good letters but I had never even thought myself capable of writing a book. I was running a landscaping crew made up of people who were proud to call themselves rednecks. On rainy or frigid days when we couldn’t work on yards we would sit around a wood heater, drink beer, and tell stories. I always had some good stories to tell but the rednecks told me stories that, while commonplace to them, opened up a new world to me. I remember Doug Barton saying one time,

            “John, you need to take notes and write this stuff down so that it doesn’t disappear. We cain’t write a book about it, but you can.”

And that was the first time I ever thought about writing a book. I started taking notes and throwing them in a box as the stories piled up. I also became more and more associated with the North Georgia rednecks and their way of life. I met a lot of people and I drank a lot of beer. I met and worked with a talented but problematic saw miller named Ottis. I met and enjoyed talking to a retired bank robber named Jerry. The stories piled up in the box but I didn’t do anything about it.

            One day, while talking to a friend I told him that I wanted to write a book but didn’t know where to start. He replied,

            “John, your life is a book. All you got to do is tell about it.”

            I filed that thought away with my notes.

Throw the notes in a box and maybe, someday...

Throw the notes in a box and maybe, someday…

Somewhere around the year 2000 I traded some irrigation work for a fancy word processor. I discovered the back space button that allowed me to correct my mistakes as I wrote. The back space button is, in my opinion, one of the most wonderful developments of the digital age. I love it and wish sometimes that I had a back space button to use in conversations.

 So I started writing, but I had one more obstacle to overcome. It took a while to get the concept but one day in 2001 I quit drinking. That one action made all the difference in my life as well as in my writing discipline. I recently read an article in Harper’s that said when you quit drinking, it is a fifteen year process, five years to deal with the problem and get used to it, five years to figure out who you want to be, and five more years to become that person. My experience shows that to be right on target, too. Now I am in the third five years and I can look back and see it clearly.

 Living by myself and trying to find a new lifestyle, I began to dig through the box of notes in 2005. I started the book. I started it twenty times. Ottis had died a weird death and I thought I might work the story around him. Every time I told someone about this beautiful but complexly confused man people would listen, enjoy the story, and then get upset when I told them that Ottis was dead. I decided to fictionalize and start the book with the death of Ottis so that there would be no surprises in the end. I gave Ottis’ character the name of Harce in order to avoid any problems. I wrote a totally fictional story about the death of Harce and then proceeded to tell the rest of the story. It took two years.

 Two things that I had admired and thought about influenced the writing of the book. The first was an interview I had seen with John Hartford on the Johnny Carson show. (John Hartford has passed on to his greater rewards and if you don’t know who he was, go to you tube and look him up. You’ll thank me).Hartford was telling Carson that he wanted to write a book and instead of the usual binding, he wanted to write it and paste the pages on a stick so that it would make a circle and so that the reader could start at any place and end up wherever he wanted. I liked that.

 The second influence came from re reading The Great Gatsby and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I decided that I really liked the point of view in which an outsider becomes close enough to the story to tell about it but not close enough to belong in it. Nick Carraway in Gatsby, for instance, basically only told what he could observe and hear about a situation in which he really didn’t belong. I could identify with this because I was on the outside of the redneck community looking in. I invented John the plant man to be the narrator. I still really like that point of view and I am using it again in the second book.

 In February of 2007, still trying to find out who I wanted to be, still trying to come up with a new and sustainable lifestyle, I joined the Rome Area Writers. My book was maybe half way done and I needed some support. I also knew that I needed both some direction and an editor. I found both and another interesting part of the story started.

 I will continue this article next week. I need to do a bit more thinking about it. My plan is to take the story all the way through the self publishing process which will answer a lot of other questions that I am frequently asked. I will also tell you more about the physical production of Requiem for a Redneck and about the progress of the second book in the planned trilogy, Redemption for a Redneck I intend to go into what I learned about self publishing, marketing, and the unexpected profits gained from being a published author so be sure to bookmark this or, better yet, to subscribe to this blogsite.

 While you are waiting for the next article in the series, I invite you to read a beautiful and funny excerpt from the Requiem. Louann is a totally fictional and delightful character who deals with life as it comes at her.. Click on the link to see what happens when Louann wins the lottery

Louann wins the lottery with unexpected results

Louann wins the lottery with unexpected results

 If you are interested in self publishing, here are three of the blogsites that I follow. There are a multitude of good articles on the subject if you wish to browse around within these sites. I highly recommend them.

There’s the lovely, interesting, and well informed Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn

And then there’s the wild man, Dean Wesley Smith

I subscribe to The Book Designer and enjoy an article by Joel Friedlander almost every day.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 Leave a comment or a question, it’s always appreciated.

j.

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